Panasonic Youth

Peter Drucker on Reports, Forms, and Process

I’m reading The Essential Drucker, a compilation of some of the best of Peter Drucker’s writings. Drucker had a amazing ability of distilling business to its essentials. He’s writing for managers, but managers in the sense that all knowledge workers are increasingly becoming their own managers.

There are a lot of parallels with agile and lean, and even TDD in some spots. One particular section that could come right out of Pragmatic Programmer is on cutting down reports and process. For instance, for one organization that was completely bogged down in forms and paperwork, Drucker says:

I suggested that all reports be suspended simultaneously for two months, and only those be allowed to return that managers still demanded after living without them. This cut reports and forms in the compnay by three quarters

What would remain if your team did the same thing? When I think back to old jobs, I think the amount that would survive would be less then a fourth - probably more like a tenth. Of course, my current job has almost no forms or reports, so now I’m on the other end of the spectrum.

Reports and procedures should focus only on the performance needed to achive results in the key areas. To "control" everything is to control nothing. ... A man must never be judged by the quality of the production forms he fills out... he must always be judged by his production performance. And the only way to make sure of this is by having him fill out no forms, make no reports, except those he needs himself to achive performance.